Short Study by Fred Bost: "The Truth About Evidence Claimed
Against Jeffrey MacDonald"
By Fred Bost
Reading Time About 30 Minutes
Spelling, punctuation and grammar preserved
This barebones study is designed to outline and criticize the government's 16 physical-evidence claims against Jeffrey MacDonald in a brief, expeditious manner. A full study upon which this offering is based is backed by 458 scanned government documents proving comments are valid. This compact study of the same points, designed for portability with 5 disks, contains only those 89 scanned documents that serve as pivotal offerings. If additional proof of any statement is desired, it is available.
The government insists its forensic case is intact and that physical evidence used to convict MacDonald for the 1970 murders of his wife and two children remains "overwhelming," but the alleged evidence dissolves once government documents and witnesses are scrutinized.
Designed for easy reading, this presentation relies upon nothing but government testimony and documention as convincers. It ignores the many independent and telling defense discoveries that would supplement these convincers. Overlapping claims are compared within the text. In certain instances the weight of one claim depends in part on weight given a parallel claim. Because of that, the text should be read in full before focusing on any single element.
CLAIM 1 -- THE BEDSHEET
The government claims that in the course of murdering his wife and two daughters, Jeffrey MacDonald used both a bedspread and a bedsheet from his own bed to move his wife's bleeding body from his youngest child's room to the master bedroom. Various items of proof were presented as part of this claim, but the focus at this moment deals with the bedsheet allegedly used in wrapping Colette MacDonald's body to keep Jeffrey from coming in contact with her bleeding wounds. The other factors of the government "proof" will be dealt with further along.
Twenty-eight stains of blood were found on the bed sheet, each identified as to international blood grouping. Twenty-six of these were of Colette MacDonald's type [Type A], the other two were Kimberly MacDonald's type [Type AB]. No stains of Type B blood, Jeffrey's type, were found on the sheet. The lack of Type B stains seems curious because, according to the government theory, MacDonald was already wounded at the time he used the bedding. He supposedly carried his wife through the narrow two-and-one-half-foot doorways without getting any of his own wounds against the sheet stretched between her body and his.
Blood stains on the sheet existed on one side only. Bloody imprints of Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama sleeve and of Colette MacDonald's pajama sleeve were among the Type A stains. Prosecutors say these imprints make it evident the sheet was used by Jeff to carry Colette. A government photograph of the sheet readily identifies these markings (see bitmap document labeled SHORT #1). The fact that the bedspread and the sheet were bundled together on the floor of the master bedroom is offered as more proof that this bedding was used as argued. However, there is testimony that MacDonald was loaded on a litter in the same area where the bedding was later photographed, with no testimony that the bedding at that time was there (SHORT #2 & #3).
It is true that several military policemen reported seeing the bedding on the floor before the photographer arrived at the scene. However, in contrast, the leader of those military policemen, Lt. Joseph Paulk, from the very first hours insisted the bedding was initially on the bed, pushed toward the bottom. The government ignored this offering in favor of the statements from the others. No effort was made to determine if the bedding might have been moved from the bed after MacDonald exited on the litter and before it was noticed by the other military police.
The government erred in this regard because the statement of Lt. Joseph Paulk was not based upon memory. Paulk depended upon a note that was scribbled by him on his clipboard, written while he actually viewed the bedding on the bed. Members of his patrol testified to his taking notes. And his explanation of how those notes were meticulously transcribed into his witness statements was given by him under oath during the Army Article 32 hearing. During testimony he specified the note he made about the bedding (SHORT #4).
Yet it is not necessary to rely alone on the integrity of Lt. Paulk to collapse the government theory. We need only pursue the question as to how else the bloody clothing might have been imprinted on the sheet.
A government photograph shows the position of the body of Colette MacDonald on the floor of the master bedroom (SHORT #5). The photo shows she is wearing her pajamas. The photo also shows the pajama top of her husband draped across her chest. If the sheet were taken from the bed and spread atop the corpse prior to this photo being taken, the imprints of both pajamas could have resulted.
The Reverend Kenneth Edwards, then an Army major in the Chaplain's Corps, states that upon hearing the commotion at the MacDonald apartment on the morning of the murders, he threw on a robe and went to see if he could be of service. Military police allowed him into the apartment as Jeffrey MacDonald was being carried out. In a tape-recorded statement on May 11, 1988, he said, "I went on down the hallway and went into the bedroom and saw what appeared to be someone's body under a sheet. The bed was messed up. It looked like it had been done to get the sheet to cover the body. I assumed the body was Colette." Chaplain Edwards lived in the same building as the MacDonalds, two apartments down. He recalls that sometime after the murders he was questioned by two men in civilian clothes whom he believed were Army CID agents. He told them of his visit to the apartment and what he had observed. If a written witness statement of the interview exists, the government has not released it.
Yet, like Lt. Paulk, the chaplain's integrity need not be at issue. Physical proof in the form of other blood stains found on the sheet support his story. The same government FBI scientist who analyzed the sleeve markings also identified a mark of a bloody shoulder and of a bloody chin, clearly labeled on the FBI photograph of the sheet. These marks allow us to determine the axis of the body as it imprinted the chin and shoulder. In addition the marks allow a scaling of a body sketch (based upon the body position of Colette as photographed) to be matched against the stains on the sheet.
Since the blood stains are on the surface of the sheet that faced downward against the body, it must be regarded as a "mirror" surface. Corrective action can be taken in one of two ways -- either the bedsheet photo must be reversed or the drawn figure must be reversed. Since maintaining the integrity of the sheet markings is the most important factor, it is easiest to reverse the position, right to left, of the drawn figure (SHORT #6).
By using the sheet stains of the chin and shoulder as "anchor" markings for superimposing the sketch, we find that the major bloodstains coincide with the drawn figure. We find that (1) the torn sleeve of Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama top is at the chest area, that (2) the bloody breast area is evident, that (3) the scrunched up bloody pajama legs of Colette MacDonald are evident at the proper places, and that (4) the bloody ankle and foot are in conjunction with a like stain on the sheet. Thus the sheet stains corroborate the stories of Lieutenant Paulk and Chaplain Edwards.
The government would no doubt protest that the torn left sleeve in the demonstration is at the chest area of the sketch while photographs, in contrast, show the torn sleeve extending along Colette's left side. Note, though, that as photographed by the government, the bundled bedding on the floor shows the sheet uppermost, just as it would be if it were taken off the corpse and dropped atop the bedspread. If the sheet had been dragged from her body to that spot, the sleeve, uppermost on her body, could have been dragged along with it. A government photo shows the sleeve extended in that specific direction, precisely toward the bundled bedding (SHORT #7).
CLAIM 2 -- THE BEDSPREAD
The government claims that not only was the sheet used in moving Colette MacDonald's body from one room to another, but that the bedspread from the master bedroom also played a part. Jeffrey MacDonald supposedly used the bedspread to keep his wife's blood from staining the floor in Kristen's room. The government says he spread the bedspread on Kristen's floor, then moved his wife's bleeding body from Kristen's bed and placed her on the bedspread, using it to contain the blood while he positioned the sheet around her so that she might be carried away.
This claim stems from two facts alone. First, that the heavily bloodied bedspread was found bundled with the sheet on the master bedroom floor near Colette's body. Second, that a bare, recognizable bloody footprint of Type A blood [Colette's type] was found just inside Kristen's room. Jeff MacDonald's footprint pointed out of the room, with no Type A blood otherwise on the floor of that room. The government reasoned that when carrying his wife, he must have stepped on something wet with Type A blood, something portable, later removed. The only portable item fitting the need was the bundled bedspread, stained heavily with Type A blood.
In an attempt to bolster this claim, the government searched Kristen's room for fibers matching the bedspread. None were found. A fiber was indeed found adhering to the bloody footprint, but the CID Laboratory determined that it matched a throw rug in the master bedroom (SHORT #8). The government looked for a foot signature imbedded in the heavy bloodstains on the bedspread. The combined weight of the pregnant Colette and her husband should have pressured blood outward from beneath the foot, leaving telltale indelible evidence on the bedspread. But a sophisticated FBI lightbox examination failed to find any foot signature (see SHORT #9 & #10). No physical evidence supported the government's theory.
But why then was a bloody footprint found in Kristen's doorway?
CLAIM 3 -- THE BLOODY FOOTPRINT
Both prior claims are based in part on a bloody footprint found just inside Kristen's door, pointing out toward the hallway. The government's own documents, when studied closely, suggest the reason for its being there.
Wet Type A blood was on the floor of the master bedroom on and near a little throw rug. Shortly before Jeffrey MacDonald was taken from that room he was seen standing on his feet in that bloody area (SHORT #11). Three witnesses tell how he struggled off the gurney in the hallway while attempting to enter his children's rooms (SHORT #12). The three-foot-wide hallway makes it clear that in order to get off the gurney in its low position just eight inches above the floor, MacDonald would have had to put his lower torso into one of the doorways leading off the hallway, such as the doorway in which the footprint was found only ten inches into the room. Imbedded within the bloody footprint was a fiber matching those from that little throw rug where MacDonald had earlier stood (review SHORT #8 & #11). A detective who arrived at 4:50 a.m. saw the footprint still drying (SHORT #13). A thin layer of blood on a wooden floor takes little time to dry, therefore it is unrealistic to believe the blood of that footprint would be wet at 4:50 a.m. if it had been formed some 90 minutes earlier as envisioned by the government. So the evidence strongly suggests Jeff MacDonald made the footprint when he struggled off the gurney, not before.
CLAIM 4 -- THE HAIR AND FIBER ENTWINED
Long after the murders the government added a "new evidence" claim. A bloody hair matching Colette's was allegedly found entwined with a long sewing thread supposedly from Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama top. This was viewed as damning evidence of a vicious fight. An FBI lab technician first introduced this claim at the 1974 grand jury investigation, saying this find was delivered to him that year in a vial -- part of the debris collected by the CID from the bloody bedspread found on the floor. The original laboratory note seems to suggest the entangled items were already mounted on a slide and delivered in a pillbox (SHORT #14). A general note written later indicates otherwise.
In any event, although it would be a common forensic requirement, the FBI lab technician caused no photo to be taken of the hair and thread before separating them (SHORT #15). The technician then washed away the alleged blood on the hair in order to make a microscopic examination (also SHORT #15). Thus, the only "proof" that a bloody hair was found entwined with a fiber is the word of the FBI technician.
There is something drastically wrong with his claim, however. Numerous examinations of the debris in the bedspread were made and recorded by the Army CID Laboratory during preceding years. CID lab notes show that a bloody hair was indeed found among that debris, but the hair matched Kimberly's hair, not Colette's (SHORT #16)In a deposition given prior to the Army hearing in 1970, the CID technician who controlled this evidence told how he washed hairs taken from the bedspread in preparation for making microscopic analyses (SHORT #17). The FBI found only one hair matching Colette in the debris given them from the bedspread. As shown, the CID had already found, examined, and cataloged that hair. How then did entwinement develop? If Colette's hair was the bloody hair, why was it identified by the CID as Kimberly's? And if the bloody hair was washed by the CID, how did it remain bloody for the FBI?
CLAIM 5 -- THE TORN RUBBER GLOVE
Three small pieces of a rubber hospital-type surgical glove were found in the master bedroom, to include one bloodstained finger. One piece was found in the bundled bed sheet, which, according to the government, added to the theory of the sheet's use. The government contention was that Jeffrey MacDonald used surgeon's gloves from his home to mask his staging of the crime scene and to write the word "PIG" in his wife's blood on the headboard of the master bed. A box of surgical gloves containing eight unopened packages was found by investigators in a cabinet under the kitchen sink. A spot of Type B blood (Jeffrey MacDonald's type) was found on the kitchen floor in front of the sink. Officials claimed that MacDonald bled there while obtaining a package of gloves from the box under the sink. They theorized that after he accidentally tore the gloves in the master bedroom, he flushed the remainder and the packaging down the commode.
The government attempted to gain supporting evidence, but failed. No blood stains were found outside or inside the kitchen cabinet (SHORT #18). The blood spot on the kitchen floor was meaningless unless the glove fragments chemically matched packaged gloves under the sink. The government's own expert testified that in completing such a comparison he found the materials did not come from the same batch of rubber. Although he said it was possible that all the items he analyzed came from the same manufacturer; he declined to say it was probable (SHORT #19).
Even if a "probable" determination had been made, the brand of glove found packaged under Jeffrey MacDonald's sink was in common use throughout the area, which neutralizes the "possible" determination. Bulk supplies from that manufacturer were in the supply system on the military reservation. The gloves under MacDonald's sink came from that supply system. The same kind of gloves were in use in the hospital, in the various dispensaries and dental clinics, and in chemical and photographic laboratories throughout the post. Without the expert's "probable" determination, the possible source of the glove fragments stretches even beyond Fort Bragg.
CLAIM 6 -- THE TEARING THRU THE BLOODSTAIN
Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama top, which had lain on Colette's chest, was stained with her blood. The government contends that three of these stains existed before the garment was torn. The government theorized that during a fight between MacDonald and his wife, her blood stained his shirt before she caused the rip. FBI lab technician Paul Stombaugh told the trial jury that he was the person who spotted the tear through those three stains, but he failed to support his claim with physical evidence. He said an appropriate photo was ordered but never made (SHORT #20). At trial he could not establish his claim by matching measurements from hem to stain edge because the stain edges had blurred (SHORT #21 & #22). Neither could he prove his point in front of the jury using a light box (SHORT #23). In contradiction to his claim (but unknown to the jury at trial), an earlier study by the Army CID Laboratory made nine days after the murders determined that no stain edges coincided along the tear (SHORT #24).
CLAIM 7 -- THE TORN PAJAMA POCKET
In conjunction with the "tear through the stain" theory, the government argued to the jury that the pocket from Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama top had been stained with a spot of Colette's blood and torn loose during an initial bedroom fight between her and her husband. His pajama top then became stained at the place where the pocket was missing, while the pocket itself, with no further stains, lay forgotten on the floor.
There is only one physically certain fact concerning the displacement or movement of the pajama pocket -- it was found on top of the thrown back corner of the little throw rug in the master bedroom (review lower left portion of SHORT #5). Photographs show that the corner of the throw rug was turned up by the foot of Colette MacDonald (SHORT #25). This means the pajama pocket could have settled on the thrown back portion of the rug only after that particular movement of her body was completed. She and the room were already bloodied, so the pocket could have become bloodstained as it was moved to the thrown back section of the little rug. Thoughtless movement did occur within that room among a large number of persons (SHORT #26 & 27). As with the pajama pocket, bloody fibers were found on top of the thrown back corner of the little rug ( SHORT #28). The knife on the floor, seen pointing in one direction by a witness, was later photographed pointing in another direction (SHORT #29 & #30). People crowded into the cramped 12-by-16-foot space of the furniture filled room and changed positions frequently. The loose pocket could have been kicked around easily.
CLAIM 8 -- THE PAJAMA FIBERS
The major government claim against Jeffrey MacDonald centers on the locations of fibers matching his pajama top. According to FBI testimony given at trial 61 sewing threads and 18 yarns were found in the master bedroom. Eighteen of these threads and three of the yarns were found under Colette's body, proving, according to the government, that the pajama top was ripped during a fight in that bedroom before her body ever reached the floor. A fiber was found on the floor near the headboard where the word "PIG" was written in blood, supposedly dropped there from MacDonald's ragged pajama top as he wrote the word. Fourteen threads and five yarns were found in the bedding of Kimberly, and one each thread and yarn were found with Kristen's bedspread, a minute fiber was also found caught in one of her fingernails. These fibers in the children's bedrooms were presented by the government as "proof" that MacDonald lied when he said he was not wearing his pajama top when he entered those rooms.
Jeffrey MacDonald alleges that his pajama top had been pulled over his head and was wound around his wrists when he regained consciousness at the end of the hallway following an attack that began in the living room. He says when he found his wife's body, he tore the pajama top from his arms in order to help her. Fibers found in the bedroom may have been strewn at that moment. He squatted to move her body downward from the chair it was propped against. Blood streaks on the chair confirm this type of movement as do fibers gathered at her crotch area. Her foot repositioning the throw rug also supports his claim. At this moment he may have torn the seam in his pajama trousers, strewing more fibers. At least four persons noted the torn trousers (SHORT #31). Some of those fibers could have ended up under Colette's body as a result of that movement downward. The trousers were destroyed by hospital personnel on the morning of the murders. Even government experts agree that without the pajama trousers for comparison there is no way of determining whether any given fiber came from the pajama top or from the trousers. A government attorney himself suggested that fibers in the master bedroom probably came from the pajama trousers as well as the pajama top (SHORT #32).
Hectic movement by military police at first arrival may have shifted Colette's body onto fibers. As already noted, Colette's foot displaced the throw rug, exposing its underside. Bloody fibers were found on that underside. If MacDonald ripped his pajamas before he put his wife on the floor, as the government contends, then the rips occurred before the rug was displaced. By the government's own argument, those particular fibers refute the contention that fibers were not being moved about. Was Colette's body also moved? One military policeman says her hand was inside her pajama trousers when he first saw her, yet photos show differently (SHORT #33).
Another consideration. A doctor claimed he rolled Colette while determining death. He said he paid no attention toward returning her to the same position. No markings had been drawn around the body prior to his examination as called for by procedural requirements. No additional pictures were taken of her body following his examination. Thus the government cannot prove with photos or markings that the doctor did not shift the body onto fibers.
The government argues that fibers found in the children's bedrooms were dislodged from MacDonald's pajama top as he killed them. They say that he inadvertently covered the fibers with bedding. There is no evidence that the fibers came from MacDonald's pajama top rather than from his torn trousers. There is no evidence these scant few fibers weren't carried to the spot by one of the rescuers or by the examining doctor. The doctor tells of pulling the covers down to examine the children. The fibers were not discovered until after that move was made.
Jeffrey MacDonald says he checked pulses and attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with the children. Blood on his face supports his story of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, as noted by hospital records and four witnesses. He says when he left the children they were on their backs. They were on their sides when photographed. It remains uncertain whether anyone repositioned them. No one admits moving the bodies. However, a medic described seeing wounds in Kristen's back -- wounds he could not have seen from the position in which she was eventually photographed.
As to the fiber on Kristen's nail, an argument can be made that while MacDonald was attempting to aid Kristen, her fingernail could have snagged on his trousers, catching a fiber. There is no proof of that. Neither, however, is there proof of the government's contention that her fingernail pulled the fiber from his pajama top as the terrified child fought frantically against him with flailing hands. Facts discount the idea. Kristen's hands were mutilated with wounds deemed by doctors as "defensive" (SHORT #34). Her fingernails were bloodied. Yet not a single stain of Type O blood [Kristen's type] was found on MacDonald's pajama top (SHORT #35). In addition, the government discovered a hair under one of those tiny bloody fingernails, probably from the actual attacker (SHORT #36a, 36b, 36c, and #36d). It's root was intact, suggesting it was forcefully ripped loose. The government tried but could not match it to hairs taken for comparison purposes from Jeffrey MacDonald.
CLAIM 9 -- STABBING THRU THE PAJAMA TOP
The government claims that Jeffrey MacDonald forgot he had placed his pajama top on his wife's body and that he later proceeded to stab through it with an ice pick. They say because the pajama top was not perfectly flat on the body, but was in folds, the 48 circular holes in the fabric could be matched to the 21 ice pick wounds in Colette's chest. Officials contended that if a true fight occurred the garment holes would have to be torn and jagged. For the holes to end up "round," officials say, the pajama top would have to be on an unresisting body. It is impossible for scientists to duplicate the fight described by MacDonald, so the government contention remains unproven.
The government's argument can be stolen by the defense. According to MacDonald, he was unconscious for awhile in the hallway. No tears in fabric would result if he were attacked at that time with an ice pick. An unknown number of thrusts through the pajama top twisted around his wrists could have produced 48 holes. Since the ice pick wounds in both Colette and Kristen were for the most part superficial, most of the thrusts into MacDonald's pajama top might have been specifically aimed at the garment and equally hesitant. If so, they would not have penetrated fully through the twisted cloth. Other thrusts might have been up to the hilt, penetrating flesh. MacDonald's wounds were never probed for depth. Wounds that did result, because they weren't resisted, could have ended up close together as a result of repetitious thrusts into the unresisting body -- something like the four curiously close wounds he suffered on his chest (SHORT #37).
Such a thought is merely conjecture, but so is the "physical proof" claimed by the government. Two FBI laboratory technicians folded and manipulated MacDonald's pajama top so that its 48 ice pick holes lined up with the 21 ice pick wounds in Colette's chest. This was done with the pajama top configured roughly in the position in which it was photographed on her body. That is the extent of the proof.
But lining up holes does not scientifically establish an absolute relationship, not unless many other factors also match without error. No examination was made to determine specifically how much Colette's pajama top had shifted with any ice pick thrusts into her chest (which, of course, would bring about a reasonably similar shifting of the blue pajama top). There had to be considerable movement of Colette's top because, although she suffered no ice pick wounds to the back, three ice pick holes were found in the rear panel of her garment. Concerning MacDonald's pajama top, no attention was paid by the lab technicians to the relative sizes of "same thrust" holes. A smaller hole configured above a larger hole would make impossible such a thrust. One of the FBI technicians testified that some of the holes in the blue pajama top were maximum width for the ice pick, representing thrusts "up to the hilt." Colette's autopsy report, however, shows no such "up to the hilt" wounds were inflicted (SHORT #38). At an inch-and-a-half, which was the deepest ice pick wound in Colette MacDonald, the ice pick blade, as measured by the government itself, was only .120 inches wide. According to government measurements, the blade would have to penetrate an additional inch-and-a-half to cause a maximum-width hole as found in the pajama fabric.
Another oversight in the government's experiment was a lack of attention paid to the direction of bent fibers at the garment holes. The CID conducted a study of directionality in 1971 and drew certain conclusions concerning 11 holes. An independent study a short time later by the FBI resulted in the same conclusions (SHORT #39). The FBI "stabbing through the pajama top" experiment ignored these findings. For example, the experiment concluded that holes numbered 20, 21, and 22, in that sequence, one above the other, represented a single thrust through folded material into Colette MacDonald's chest (SHORT #40). However, both the CID and the FBI directionality studies concluded that hole 20 penetrated the pajama top from the inside to the outside, while both hole 21 and hole 22 penetrated from the outside to the inside (SHORT #41). It is impossible to fold a cloth so that a single thrust through three holes can duplicate those directions.
Finally, the entire concept becomes irrelevant if eye witness accounts of three military policemen first on the scene are credited. When interviewed early on and independently they said the garment was not on the corpse when they arrived at the scene. One military policeman believes he knelt on the pajama top while he gave MacDonald mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The group recalls that one of Colette MacDonald's breasts was visible. Government photographs show the pajama top covering both breasts (SHORT #42).
CLAIM 10 -- THE BATH MAT
A bath mat was photographed on Colette MacDonald's lower torso. The government contends that Jeffrey MacDonald used the bath mat to wipe blood from weapons before disposing of them. They say he placed the bath mat on his wife's body to disguise the type of stains involved.
The mat was otherwise unsoiled and was believed to initially have been among freshly laundered items found on the chair in the master bedroom close to Colette MacDonald's body. Because it was so readily available to an attacker handling weapons in the bedroom (no matter who that attacker might be), the wipings on the bath mat point to no specific individual. While prosecutors insist Jeffrey MacDonald placed the mat on his wife's body, they do so by ignoring accounts of others at the scene. Military police deny that a bath mat was on the body when they arrived (SHORT #43). They recall part of Colette MacDonald's abdomen being exposed, an area covered by the mat in photographs. One military policeman noticed the bath mat did not appear on the body until some fifteen minutes after his arrival (SHORT #44).
CLAIM 11 -- JEFFREY MACDONALD'S WOUNDS
The primary reason Jeffrey MacDonald is called a murderer is because he is still alive. Officials insist that if such a murderous attack had been mounted by outsiders Jeffrey MacDonald would have died with his family. Ergo, the alive MacDonald serves as evidence against himself.
To present MacDonald as the murderer, the government had to choose its argument. The multiple wounds he suffered must be described as either caused in a fight with his wife, or as self administered, or as a combination of both. Prosecutors chose the latter explanation. According to their trial argument, all of his wounds, with one exception, were caused by his wife during a wild fight. The exception, they said, was a wound to his right side that caused a partial collapse of the lung, a wound deliberately and carefully inflicted to make it appear he had been grievously injured. In seeking believability, they belittled the seriousness of the "self inflicted" wound, saying it could be carefully incised without endangering life. At trial they caused one doctor to testify that the wound could be safely self administered, thus refuting his earlier testimony at an Army hearing. He was the only doctor to testify at trial on the matter. Prosecutors ignored 1970 testimony given by multiple doctors relating to the seriousness and dangers of such a wound. In fact at that time one of the best descriptions of the danger was voiced by a state medical examiner hired by the army prosecution for independent evaluation (SHORT #45).
In following their script of Jeffrey and Colette MacDonald doing bloody battle, the prosecutors were forced to deny MacDonald suffered ice pick wounds. For example, while being interviewed on live television [Channel 40, Fayetteville, NC, 6 p.m., February 7, 1985] former prosecutor James Blackburn pushed his myth by saying, "Doctors at the trial testified there were no ice pick wounds [suffered by MacDonald]." Obviously if the ice pick wounds were acknowledged, the prosecution's theory would cause visions of a vicious Colette MacDonald wielding both a knife and an ice pick against her husband in ambidexterous and highly successful fashion.
One reason prosecutors felt confident in denying the extent of MacDonald's wounds is because CID investigators failed to take pictures of them. Examining doctors, in reporting the wounds to authorities during initial interviews, limited their statements by excluding minor injuries. Prosecutors thus had no problem limiting courtroom claims to a few items -- a self inflicted lung wound, an in-and-out wound to the flesh of the upper left bicep, a bump on the head, and a superficial slash to the left abdomen. It is necessary to look elsewhere in the government's documents to get a complete picture of MacDonald's head injuries, the scope and seriousness of other injuries, and particularly his ice pick injuries (SHORT #46, #47, #48, #49, #50, #51 and #52). But when that picture is formed, it heavily contradicts the picture presented by the government.
CLAIM 12 -- STAGING AN ALIBI
In disbelieving MacDonald's insistence that a group of outsiders attacked him in his living room, the government assumed that disarrangements there were staged to help form his story. We have already noted the confusion that occurred in the master bedroom with military policemen and medics. The same kind of confusion occurred elsewhere in the home (SHORT#53). A litter was turned end for end in the cramped living room (SHORT #54). An individual sat on the couch where the struggle allegedly occurred (SHORT #55). A wallet moved first from the floor, then to a table, then out of the home ( SHORT #56). Fibers were seen in the hallway where MacDonald claimed to have lain, only to later disappear (SHORT #57). A bloody footprint of a woman or child seen in the hall was apparently obliterated (SHORT #58). And a photographer was allowed to spread his equipment in an area that had not been processed for clues (SHORT #59). Such occurrences make later physical findings questionable.
In the living room a top-heavy coffee table was found on its side atop a neat stack of magazines, magazines that were next to some children's boxed games. The magazines when knocked off the table would have scattered. In experiments, the coffee table would never remain on edge but would always turn completely over when flipped. A flowered plant was out of its pot, but the pot was standing upright, not in line with the plant. Investigators felt a rug would surely be rumpled if a struggle had occurred on it.
Legal evidence should consist of facts, not imagination. The fact that the table was found on edge indicates only one thing, that the table had the capacity to remain on edge. An assailant not wanting to make noise could have placed the table on edge, or one person could have knocked it over so it bounced against another person and stayed on edge. No supporting evidence exists for either fantasy, or any other.
It wasn't until 1974 that anyone bothered to question Jeffrey MacDonald about magazines found pinned by the coffee table. When questioned during the grand jury investigation, he told how he cleared the table and stacked the magazines on the floor to give Kimberly use of the table's surface for playing games. The games found near the neatly stacked magazines tend to substantiate his story.
The upright flower pot was explained early on in the case. Military policemen told of seeing the flower pot on its side when first observed, and one military policeman told of watching a stranger in the living room place it upright before the photographer arrived. As to the rug, MacDonald never described himself struggling on the rug. He said he was struggling on the end of the couch. Only in a brief moment when he tried to get to his feet was he on the rug, then he was knocked unconscious by another blow to the head. It is questionable as to how much this would disturb the rug. Military policemen and medics told of crossing and recrossing it early that morning, to include the use of a rolling gurney to move MacDonald. The traffic could have ruffled and smoothed the rug several times over. Evidence of the truth, one way or another, is non-existent.
CLAIM 13 -- THE ESQUIRE MAGAZINE
Prosecutors made much of one of the magazines found in the stack under the coffee table. The cover of an Esquire magazine had a smudged fingerprint in blood. A story within the magazine about the Tate murder case in California made references to candles, to a blonde, and to the term "pig," all also common to the MacDonald murders. Prosecutors told the jury that Jeffrey MacDonald, after killing his family, recalled reading that story. They say he went back to the magazine to find facts he could copy in staging the crime. In handling the magazine, they say, he left a small smear of blood on the edge.
No physical facts prove this contention, and a number of things weaken the theory. Significance of the blood smear is arguable because investigators browsed through the magazine for three days before the smudge was noted (SHORT #60). The bloody fingerprint -- if it was indeed a fingerprint -- was not traceable. Any investigator in the apartment while blood was wet on that first morning could have caused the smudge. In fact, the very first investigator on the scene was one of those who handled the magazine habitually during the following three days, leaving his fingerprints on the magazine (SHORT #61).
Next, the magazine story mentions candles, but the evidence in the MacDonald case goes beyond MacDonald "copycatting" by saying he thought the female he saw was carrying a lighted candle. Dripped candle wax was found in three places in the apartment to include wax on the coffee table where MacDonald alleged he saw the girl. These drippings matched no candles in the apartment, neither did they match each other (SHORT #62). Creating a concocted story of a lighted candle on the spur of the moment is one thing. Making wax drippings appear out of nowhere as evidence of that candle use becomes a great deal harder.
CLAIM 14 -- THE WEAPONS
Authorities claim that the weapons used in the murders originated without exception within the MacDonald quarters. They say that multiple weapons were used by Jeffrey MacDonald to confuse the issue and make it appear as if a group committed the crime.
According to the government theory, MacDonald and his wife had an altercation in the master bedroom which evolved into a life and death struggle. He is supposed to have struck her with his fist, at which point she acquired a dull bent knife (known as the Geneva Forge knife) and wounded him several times. He thereupon acquired a heavy splintery stick and beat her down, accidentally wounding Kimberly who was trying to separate them. After taking Kimberly to her own room, he supposedly beat the child to near-death. When he entered Kristen's room to kill the baby he discovered that Colette had regained consciousness and was there to protect her infant. He beat down Colette, carried her to the master bedroom in the bedding, acquired another knife (the Old Hickory knife) from the kitchen, stabbed Kristen with the knife, stabbed his wife with the knife, then stabbed Kimberly with it. He then supposedly acquired an ice pick from the kitchen and used it to stab Kristen and then his wife, forgetting that his wife was covered at the time with his own pajama top.
We have already noted many of the major problems in the theory. Others call for equally close examination. Why was a dull, bent knife easily available in the master bedroom? Why was a heavy splintery stick there also? What would make a married couple with no background of violence attack each other in such a fierce manner?
The prosecution calls these questions superfluous by saying they have proof that the stick and the ice pick belonged in the MacDonald residence, and if two weapons were his, it's reasonable to assume all four were his. Even if such proof were evident, the prosecution fails to explain how this makes MacDonald the murderer. Intruders could just as easily have picked up one, two, three, or four weapons from within the home for their own use.
But facts concerning the weapons are far different than those the government reveals. Despite extensive efforts, neither knife could be traced to the MacDonald home. True, there was a moment when the CID felt it had a baby sitter to say she saw the bent, dull Geneva Forge knife in the MacDonald apartment. But the baby sitter claimed she was misunderstood and the sitter's mother accused the CID of trying to manipulate her. When the sitter testified at the Army Article 32 hearing, the prosecution changed its mind toward questioning her about weapons. Later the CID interviewed the sitter again. She denied ever seeing either of the knives, the club, or the ice pick in the MacDonald quarters (SHORT #63).
At the grand jury investigation the same sitter was brought forward to testify that she had indeed seen in the MacDonald kitchen, not the Geneva Forge knife (as claimed at Fort Bragg), but the Old Hickory knife. On the stand, however, she dismayed the prosecutor when she refused to confirm seeing the knife. Later that day, after gaining new recall, she took the stand once more, this time to say she remembered using an ice pick in the MacDonald home. This sitter then told that same story five years later to the trial jury.
Another person who told the grand jury in 1974 of seeing an ice pick in the MacDonald home was Jeffrey MacDonald's mother-in-law, who some three years earlier had turned against him. No interview conducted by the CID or FBI prior to 1974 (and there were several) had her remembering an ice pick. The CID's final report in 1972 that relied in part on friendly information supplied by the Kassabs made no mention of Mildred Kassab remembering an ice pick.
There is no question that the heavy splintery stick used as a club in the bloody murders belonged to the MacDonald household. But there is considerable question as to whether it was kept indoors or outside. Colette was known to have used it in the backyard to paint Kimberly's bed. The stick had animal hairs adhering to it and it was weatherworn. It was so weatherworn that an end had to be sawed in order to distinguish growth rings (SHORT #64). Investigators tried to find physical evidence that the stick had been used or kept indoors, but came up empty.
Adding to the controversy about the weapons is overwhelming evidence that the club, knife, and ice pick found in the yard were initially mishandled by CID investigators, causing the investigators to return these weapons to the yard for photographing during a second "official" finding. If this mishandling occurred, it brings doubt against any claim concerning these items.
Military policemen under oath stated the weapons were first discovered and reported by them about 5 a.m. (SHORT #65). The weapons were not photographed at this time as they should have been (SHORT #66). A medic's statement suggests he saw the weapons carelessly handled (SHORT #67). The leader of the Fort Bragg CID gave confirming testimony that he was shown the weapons at about 5 a.m.(SHORT #68 & #69). In contrast, the two lead investigators swore under oath that the weapons were found at first light, shortly before 7 a.m. (SHORT #70) Records prove that neither the medic nor the military policemen who saw the weapons at 5 a.m. were at the murder quarters at the time the lead investigators insist the weapons were found.
CLAIM 15 -- THE FIBERS ON THE CLUB
When the weathered, splintery stick found in the back yard was examined it was bloodied and had debris adhering to it, including animal hairs and some fibers. The prosecution says that among those fibers were two purple threads matching threads from Jeffrey MacDonald's pajama top. Prosecutors at trial emphasized those two fibers, and in closing arguments they decreed them to be the most damaging of all evidence brought against MacDonald. One prosecutor asked how it was possible for pajama fibers to be stuck on that club if, as MacDonald insisted, he had not torn his pajama top from his arms until after the club was outside.
The question proved effective with the jury. Unknown to them, though, the government had already determined that the fibers introduced on the club as pajama fibers were in reality a case of poor laboratory work. Initial conclusions by the CID in 1970 and the FBI in 1974 found two pajama fibers in the debris from the club. However, problems arose when an FBI lab technician just before trial reanalyzed the evidence. He determined that the two fibers, instead of being dark blue cotton pajama fibers, were actually dark wool of undetermined origin (SHORT #71). He also found dark wool on Colette's mouth and bicep area, and again, the source could not be identified. The prosecution managed to keep this technician from testifying at the trial by stipulating that his knowledge was unimportant to the case. Independent FBI studies made years later reconfirmed that no pajama fibers were found on the club (SHORT #72 & #73). The government took pains to keep the prejudicial conclusion from being baldly stated in official reports. Reports were written in a manner to hide the failure to find pajama fibers. This was done with general remarks such as "No other fibers of apparent significance were found."
The records, however, are clear. MacDonald was convicted using false evidence, false testimony, and false prosecutorial accusations. There were no pajama fibers on the club.
CLAIM 16 -- NO EVIDENCE OF INTRUDERS
Prosecutors told the jury that despite intensive investigation, no evidence existed that would support Jeffrey MacDonald's story of intruders. Investigation, though, was not as objectively oriented as the government would have the public believe. It is beyond the scope of this short study to argue extensively. To prove the government wrong, we will limit ourselves to three specific items of "people" evidence -- evidence that is indisputable, evidence that was processed by the government alone, evidence that could only have come from strangers in the household at the time of the murders.
First, Kimberly MacDonald, as was the case with her younger sister, apparently ripped a hair from an assailant while defending herself. A hair with root intact, scraped from beneath one of Kimberly's bloody fingernails, was processed by the CID at the same time and in the same manner as the hair found under her baby sister's bloody fingernail. As with the hair from Kristen's hand, it did not match hairs taken from their father (SHORT #74, #75 and #76).
Next, a fingerprint was found on a stemmed glass on the lamp table in the living room, designated Exhibit P in the evidence catalog (SHORT #77 & #78). On the floor near the lamp table, under the window, was a speck of blood. Close to that blood speck were MacDonald's reading glasses with a similar speck of blood on them, Type O blood. Also on the glasses was a fiber of pink wool that could be matched to nothing within the household. The stemmed glass on the lamp table contained dregs of chocolate milk, milk that apparently had been purchased that night by Colette, milk that was kept in the small kitchen refrigerator (SHORT #79). Blood was found on the floor near the refrigerator and on the refrigerator door, suggesting a bloody visitor to the machine (SHORT #80). Jeffrey MacDonald had washed the liqueur glasses used by himself and his wife that night. They were found at the kitchen sink. Why would he have failed to wash the mystery glass as well, prior to his retiring? An expert determined the fingerprint on the stemmed glass to be that of an adult female or that of the little finger of an adult male (SHORT #81). Comparison attempts have failed to match it to the MacDonalds or any other persons known to have been in the murder apartment. This includes family friends, neighbors, investigators, military policemen, and medics. The FBI attempted to match the mystery print to prints from more than a hundred persons without success. The individual who drank the chocolate milk and left a fingerprint on the brandy glass remains unidentified (SHORT #82).
The final item refuting the government is a palm print found on the upper edge of the footboard of the master bed. Prosecutors cannot excuse it as being "old" because the print was formed in blood (SHORT #83 & #84). It was discovered by CID lab technicians on the day of the murders. Blood from the edges of the print was analyzed as exhibits 29 a, b, and c. Analysis of the blood specified two possibilities -- Type A or Type O. The print itself was designated Exhibit 3X30. The official laboratory report carefully refrained from indicating that a bloody print had been found (SHORT #85). Like the print on the brandy glass, this bloody palm print was checked by the FBI against more than 100 persons. It, too, remains unidentified (SHORT #86).
Despite the results of the 1979 trial and subsequent court appeals ruling against Jeffrey MacDonald, government evidence fails to show he is the murderer of his family. That evidence is yours to scrutinize at your leisure. Decide for yourself.
Short Study Files